Child-Initiated: Greetings! I am Marc Anthony, the director of Birth to Pre-K Center. A few years ago, I was an educator at a local high school. I was privileged to educate some of the most brilliant minds. At the same time, I came across students who had a tough time at school. I often wondered what may result in such a distinction between students. With time, I started feeling miserable at my work. I began obsessing about what can be done to ensure students joining high school compete on level ground. Indeed, as GCU’s statement on the integration of Faith and Work highlights, the work we do matters to God and those around us. Therefore, by choosing to uplift others, we honor God.
In my view, the root of the problem is the foundation we create for our children. Therefore, I quit my job and decided to open Birth to Pre-K Center which specializes in helping young children to initiate their learning and development at an early age. Child-initiated learning and development are essential because it enables a child to understand not only themselves but also the world which surrounds them (Wood, 2015). Here, a child learns via experience. Child-initiated activities at first may be introduced by an educator. However, with time the child may be allowed space and time to utilize the resources as well as ideas provided to come up with their own experiences (Featherstone, 2013). In this regard, this is the key to guiding young children to strike a balance between child-initiated activities and adult-led activities to meet the best outcomes for the child.
Adults play a crucial role in child-initiated learning and development. They not only ensure a safe environment for a child to test and explore their ideas but also use the interests of a child to provide opportunities and resources which the child can use in various ways (Rose & Rogers, 2013). Individual guidance enables a practitioner to focus entirely on the needs of the child while assessing their ability to function alone while Group guidance allows an educator to gauge a child’s performance in a group. They both highlight strengths and weaknesses which can be used to the child’s advantage. In addition, they teach a child how to operate alone and, in a group, where cooperation is vital. By building a stable relationship with a child, as well as observation, a child learns the value of relationships in regards to what they like, or dislike. For, instance, rather than fighting over a toy, a child is taught the importance of sharing by taking turns or rewarding good behavior.
Even so, child-initiated learning can be challenging. Strategies that facilitate child-initiated learning include carefully tuning and listening to the child (Wood, 2015). By tuning into a child’s ideas, it is easier to extend a conversation or play. Moreover, an educator can opt to join in the child’s play while engaging in meaningful interactions that enhance their learning (Woods, 2017). For instance, an educator may improve a play by posing a series of questions intended to keep the game going, rather than hijacking it. An educator should not appear to take over the child’s play. Additionally, a practitioner must value the ideas of a child, and have the ability to build upon them skillfully, so that the play and the child can evolve. These facts are crucial because they not only encourage a child’s learning process but also build upon activities intended to help a child develop essential attributes. Further, children are more engaged when an adult is present beside them. By keeping these in mind, a practitioner gains an accurate idea of a child’s capability. Therefore, the follow-up activities can be planned effectively.
Featherstone, S. (2013). Supporting child-initiated learning. London: Featherstone Education.
Rose, J., & Rogers, S. (2013). The role of the adult in early years settings. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Top of Form
Wood, E. (2015). Cross-curricular teaching to support child-initiated learning in EYFS and Key Stage 1. In Cross-Curricular Teaching in the Primary School (pp. 67-81). London: Routledge.
Woods, A. (Ed.). (2017). Child-Initiated Play and Learning: Planning for possibilities in the early years. Hoboken: Taylor & Francis.
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